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Parliamentary Republics outshine Constitutional Monarchies in the Global Peace Index

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The Global Peace Index provides yet more evidence to confirm the superiority of Parliamentary Republics over Politician's Monarchies. Publius reports.

The 2011 Global Peace Index is out. Of the top 10, five of them are Parliamentary Republics: Iceland (1st), Czech Republic (5th), Austria (6th), Finland (7th) and Slovenia (10th). Of the top 25, 13 are Republics: Ireland (11th), Germany (15th), Switzerland (16th), Portugal (17th), Uruguay (21st), Poland (22nd), Slovakia (23rd) and Singapore (24th). Notably, Australia is 18th (beaten by 9 Parliamentary Republics) while the Netherlands is a disappointing 25th.

We should recall that Flint argues that because there are less constitutional monarchies in the world (15% of the world constitutions are constitutional monarchies), and given they cut even with Republics in the top 10 rankings of most surveys, constitutional monarchies are clearly over-represented in these surveys. We, of course, noted several problems with this argument: virtually all the countries in the top 10 index are of European origin. You rarely, if ever, hear monarchists extolling the virtues of constitutional monarchies like Lesotho, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Grenada and Italy under Mussolini. Nor, when it comes to issues of peace and stability, do you hear them mention that a majority of the countries that signed the Nazi Tripartite Treaty were also constitutional monarchies (the Kingdoms of Italy, Japan, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Thailand and possibly, Hungary: a Kingdom without a King, but with a Regent). Anyway, all this simply tells me is that those European countries, or those of European origin – be they Republic or monarchy – do well (especially the microstates).

Flint, therefore, fails to standardise his results — we are comparing a small dataset clustered in Europe, with a large pool of African, Latin American and Asian countries. Sounds objective, eh? Of course not.

Comparing Lesotho to Liechtenstein is just as spurious as comparing Switzerland to Swaziland. Instead, apples should be compared with apples, rather than comparing apples with oranges. In other words, Nordic countries should be compared with comparable Nordic countries (2 versus 3 of is a reasonable sample size); Anglo-Celtic countries with Anglo-Celtic countries (1 v 1 of those); Latino countries with other Latino countries, small countries with small countries and so forth. Even this does not guarantee a valid comparison as there may be natural disasters or a lack of natural resources that makes neighbouring countries, thanks to arbitrary geographical lines, perform better than others (e.g. Norway, where 25% of GDP is oil, has an extremely high GDP per capita).

Furthermore, Flint, a Professor of Law, should also do more to enlighten his readers to different types of monarchy: “constitutional, activist / semi-constitutional and absolute” (there are subnational monarchies in Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire). Flint fails to distinguish different types of Republican systems. There are, of course, at least three forms of Republics: Parliamentary (most European Republics), semi-Presidential (France) and executive/Presidential systems (most Latin American countries).

So, what happens when we standardise our results? We can see Parliamentary Republics are clearly superior to constitutional monarchies, the former of which often involves direct or Parliament election, while the latter involve some form of hereditary principle.

The key points to observe from the Index are:

  • Nordic Parliamentary Republics outdo Nordic constitutional monarchies. Iceland (1st) outranks Denmark (4th) who is of a similar size to it, while Finland (7th) outranks both Norway (9th) and Sweden which is at an unfortunate 13th position.

  • Anglo-Celtic Parliamentary Republics do better than Anglo-Celtic constitutional monarchies: Ireland (11th) outranks the UK (26th).

  • In the Spanish and Latino world Parliamentary Republics are far superior: Portugal (17th) outranks Spain (28th), the latter of which has witnessed far more violent and dramatic protests than Portugal due to its 45% youth unemployment.

  • In the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago (79th) and Guyana (88th) easily beat Jamaica (106th) in the rankings.

  • Central European countries like Austria, Czech Republic and Slovenia, while Germanic and Slavic in origin, do significantly better than Belgium itself.

  • Countries with direct-democracy on a federal level do particularly well: Uruguay is 21st (well ahead of ALL its Latin American neighbours and, indeed, well ahead of Spain at 28th position and even the UK at 26th position) and Switzerland is at 16th.

  • However, some results do indeed paint a weary picture for executive or semi-Presidential countries, a system of government not championed by the ARM, which supports “direct election, direct democracy” models more akin to Iceland, Finland, Austria and Switzerland.

    For example:

    • In the Francophile world, Belgium (14th) does outperform France (36th) and the Netherlands (24th), presumably because France was demoted for (a) banning the hijab; (b) treatment of the Roma gypsies, and (c) being an activist in foreign affairs, Libya included. In my view, I am not going to be crying over these issues, but it does tell you the ideological flavour of the Index. The result is also somewhat curious given it is Belgium, not France, that is on the verge of dissolution and has not been able to form government in over 330 days.

    • Japan is 3rd (there are no comparable Parliamentary Republics in the region) while Malaysia is 19th, ahead of Singapore (24th). This was not the case a few years ago: Malaysia in both 2008 and 2007 was ranked 37th while Singapore was 30th over the same two years. In 2009, Malaysia was 26th while Singapore was 23rd.  This shows how widely the results can vary from year to year, returning to my contingency point. Nevertheless, this is a curious result given recent protests in Japan, which is marred by voter anger and resentment at the government following its response to the recent earthquake, and Malaysia which has a wonderful record for its treatment of refugees. At least Malaysia is an elected monarchy, which departs from the hereditary principle, while Singapore vastly outranks purely constitutional monarchies such as Thailand (107th) and PNG (94th).

    • So as I have always maintained, and as this index also proves, Parliamentary Republics tend to be better than constitutional monarchies, both of which tend to be far, far, superior to executive Presidencies.

      (NB: Figures for Lesotho, Bahamas, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia and a few other monarchies are unavailable due to data shortages – this is also a problem with the UN Human Development Index – it omits well over half a dozen constitutional monarchies in its rankings. Apparently, constitutional monarchies are fantastic for sociologists: they cannot even keep records of the most basic information about human development.)  
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